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His speech Wednesday for instance contrasted with highly publicized remarks made two weeks ago by Mr. Paul, a tea party hero and possible 2016 presidential candidate.

Drawing a contrast between himself and Republicans whom he tied to a “war caucus,” Mr. Paul called for a “saner, more balanced” approach to foreign policy that strikes a balance between neoconservative and isolationist thinking.

In an ironic twist, Mr. Paul — like Mr. Kerry — made reference to President Reagan.

Mr. Paul said his own “realist” vision of the nation’s role on the global stage was equivalent to the “robust but also restrained” approach that Mr. Reagan had employed during the Cold War.

But the Kentucky Republican also seemed to caution against aggressive calls for increased U.S. defense spending and engagement overseas.

“What the United States needs” Mr. Paul said, is “a policy that is not rash or reckless; a foreign policy that is reluctant, restrained by constitutional checks and balances but does not appease; a foreign policy that recognizes the danger of radical Islam but also the inherent weaknesses of radical Islam; a foreign policy that recognizes the danger of bombing countries on the pretext of what they might someday do.”